Lunch Review: Latitude 41
Latitude 41 attracts plenty of out-of-towners searching for a convenient meal, given its location on the ground floor of the Downtown Renaissance Hotel. But the restaurant's calm, classy dining room also draws its share of locals, particularly during the work week, who meet over soups, salads and sandwiches to conduct lunch-hour business.
It's that core group of regulars that Executive Chef David MacLennan wants to please.
He adds several new dishes to the menu daily to surprise them-and to keep them coming back. His inspiration starts with natural foods supplied by local farmers and artisans, so the menu continually transforms to reflect the current season's harvest.
"We try not to intimidate anybody," MacLennan said. "We like to take a pretty simple approach."
The restaurant's style is modern American but includes international influences, such as handmade cavatelli pasta, sweet-and-spicy Korean wings, Greek gyros and a collection of wines imported from Italy, France, Chile and other locales.
The restaurant name, too, came from afar. It's a nod to Christopher Columbus (the city's namesake) and his voyage to the New World, which ended in Barcelona. Barcelona sits at 41 latitude.
Although the decor is upscale with dramatic floor-to-ceiling curtains, mirrored ceiling tiles and glass light fixtures, the overall atmosphere feels relaxed, and the service is leisurely paced.
What to eat
The restaurant serves breakfast daily and offers a shared menu for lunch and dinner. You'll find a broad assortment of small and large plates, along with soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.
Seasonal soups are a flavorful starter for lunch. The Local Sweet Corn Soup ($5) offered this fall was smoothly blended and topped with a tempura-fried mushroom and chive whipped cream. The chef's produce and ingredients rotate every season, so you'll find soups made with squashes such as butternut or pumpkin squash on the winter menu. The Tomato Mozzarella flatbread ($8), with its light pomodoro sauce, smoked mozzarella and crispy dough, is a tasty option to share.
Latitude 41's small-plate portions are certainly large enough to order as an entre. A hearty staple is the Lobster Mac and Cheese ($15)-a creative twist on the ultimate comfort food. Made with mascarpone cheese and cream from Ohio-based Snowville Creamery, the dish is buttery and decadent.
Another comfort-food worth sampling is the Chicken and Waffles ($10), which features maple-glazed chicken and waffles made with batter from the North Market's Taste of Belgium.
If sandwiches are more your style, try the grilled Chicken and Pesto Panini ($7) and Hand Cut Fries ($4). It's worth noting that roasted peppers are mixed in with the pesto, so prepare for a strong, spicy flavor.
What to drink
The elegant hotel restaurant and its neighboring bar
offer more than 200 wines served by the bottle or the glass. A growing selection of bottled craft beers also are sold, along with shots and cocktails such as the Pear Passion Bellini ($9), Fire and Ice Martini ($7) and Mellow Melon ($7), a sweet concoction of coconut rum, pineapple juice and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
The dessert menu also changes seasonally, but highlights include the Fried Apple Pie ($7) and Valhrona Chocolate S'more ($8). The S'more cake resembles a giant, toasted marshmallow layered over velvety chocolate ganache and a homemade graham cracker crust. The taste rivals the original, even without the campfire. Or sample a rainbow of ice cream flavors from Jeni's and assorted cookies.
50 N. Third St., Downtown